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Edmonton Oilers end losing skid with victory in Dallas – Edmonton Sun

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DALLAS — The American Airlines Center is officially located on Victory Avenue just outside the downtown area, but if you’re the Edmonton Oilers and are looking for a win after a season-worst four-game losing skid you can also find it at the intersection of Desperation and Determination.

While Oilers coach Dave Tippett went radical and had Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins all centring lines, as he said; “just to spread things around”, it was also more of the usual in their start to finish 2-1 victory.

The Oilers got a league-leading power-play goal from Draisaitl, their NHL best road penalty-kill stopped three by the Stars, McDavid had assists on both goals and goalie Mikko Koskinen, after a blemish against Carolina last week, was rock-solid, only beaten by Tyler Seguin’s bullet under the bar with 157 seconds left, running his record to 12-5-2. He made a great stop on Corey Perry with nine seconds remaining to save it.

The difference; one of those McDavid feeds came on their struggling five-on-five attack — a pass to Zack Kassian. Kassian has been the best even-strength player on the team, though, with all of his 12 goals and 23 points five-on-five. And after leading for all of 4:35 over the preceding four losses, they didn’t chase the game and after giving up 19 goals in those losses, they looked like the October Oilers. You remember them, opening with five straight wins, going 7-2-1 in the first 10, giving up just 24 goals.

“Our guys were really focused today, you could tell in the morning skate, real business-like approach … mostly the leaders in the room said we’d get the job done,” said Tippett. “Our goalie was really good but we checked well, the things we’d like our identity to be, a team effort rather than waiting for a couple of guys (Draisaitl and McDavid) to score.”

“Solid game from the first to the last minute, really a grinding game,” said Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom, who played half of it, 30:32, 10 minutes and 10 shifts in the third and also got yeoman service out of partner Adam Larsson who blocked six shots. “I’d rather win 2-1 than 5-4 and give up a lot of goals and a lot of shots … well, maybe if we had let in eight and we scored nine, I would still be happy, even if I was dash-6. All we wanted was a win to stop the bleeding.”

Got a little hairy at the end, a continuation of the third where Dallas had 18 shots and the Oilers eight.

“Yeah, little nervous, good for their fans (all the action) I guess. Thank god, we got away with it. You can almost say they deserved to score one but we kept it to one.”

Koskinen was like Gumby meets Pretzel in the final few minutes, bending, diving to make stops.

“Got a lot of pressure at the end … got my blocker on that one late. The goal was kind of a broken play, a pass through the back-door,” said Koskinen, who admitted it’s hard to protect a 2-0 lead for 46 minutes. “I thought we did a great job until they got the first one.”

And, they’re now second in the Pacific Division, tied with Arizona at 42 points but playing one more game. Vegas is third with 41 and Calgary fourth with 40 in the tightest division in the league.

CONNOR WHO?

Alex Chiasson made a McDavid like, no look back-pass past Dallas defender Esa Lindell right onto Draisaitl’s waiting tape to give Oilers a power-play goal in eight straight games. The last time Oilers had a PP streak that long was 1999 when Doug Weight and Ryan Smyth were leading the charge. The Draisaitl PP slapper ended the Stars’ run of 41 straight kills at home.

“I didn’t exactly know he was there but one thing about our power play since I’ve been on it the last year, it’s kind of chemistry, you understand where guys are. I never looked once but it was a feel for the play. He usually hangs around that area, perfect spot at the right time,” said Chiasson, of the set-up on the game-winner.

HOW THE WHEEL TURNS

Todd Nelson and Derek Laxdal find themselves on the same on the same Dallas coaching staff these days, but nine and-a-half years ago they both applied for the Oil Kings junior job.

Laxdal was hired by then junior GM Bob Green, but now the chief amateur scout of Oilers, and Nelson, who had been Atlanta Thrashers assistant coach, was in limbo in June, 2010. Until GM Steve Tambellini called.

“Went for an interview and got hired the next day. Best thing that ever happened to me going to Oklahoma City,” said Nelson, who then coached Oilers after Dallas Eakins was fired.

Laxdal left Oil Kings after their Memorial Cup, and coached Stars AHL farm team for six years until Dallas coach Jim Montgomery was fired a week ago.

“It was a whirlwind there for three or four days. When I got the call, it threw me off, but then you just go. Came up and went right into a pre-game skate and a game (vs New Jersey),” said Laxdal, who coached 12 of the current Stars in the minors, including John Klingberg, Esa Lindelll and Radek Faksa.

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Sinclair to lead Canadian women’s team in her fourth Olympics

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Christine Sinclair, the all-time international goal-scoring record holder, was named to her fourth Olympic squad on Wednesday and will headline a Canadian roster at the Tokyo Games that features a mix of veterans and youth.

Led by Sinclair, whose 186 goals for her country are the most by a female or male soccer player worldwide, Canada won medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and was the only nation to make the podium in both competitions.

“I am looking forward to doing whatever I can to help take this team back to the podium and make history again,” said Canadian captain Sinclair. “Our team is in a good spot, we are excited, we are hungry and we are ready to go.”

The 18-player roster features 12 members of the squad that competed at the 2016 Rio Games while a quintet including Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso, Adriana Leon, and Evelyne Viens will be making their Olympic debuts.

Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan travelled to Rio in 2016 as an alternate.

Canada will kick off their Tokyo 2020 journey when they face Japan on July 21 and continue Group E play against Chile on July 24 and Britain on July 27.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Which of the Canadians Picked in the 2021 NFL Draft Will Thrive This Season?

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It was a good NFL Draft for Canadian players in 2021.

Some four stars from north of the border were selected by NFL franchises in the free agency pick ‘em, and that is tied as the highest number of Canadians drafted in the 85-year history of the event.

Of course, the hope is that these young talents are more than just filler and roster depth, but can any of the quartet make the breakthrough into the big time?

Here’s a look at which of the NFL’s newest Canadian additions can shine in 2021/22.

Jevon Holland

The defensive back was the number 36 pick in the Draft by the Miami Dolphins, who beat off a number of rivals in the hunt for the Coquitlam native.

A versatile defender, Holland is a former Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist thanks to his exploits in the NCAA back in 2019 with the University of Oregon.

He sat out the 2020 campaign, but representatives from dozens of NFL teams were in town to watch Holland go through his paces at the Oregon Pro Day.

The 21-year-old is following in the footsteps of his father Robert, who turned out for the Detroit Lions, and he is expected to force his way into the starting line-up at the Dolphins. And, who knows, maybe Holland could go all the way in his first season, with Miami priced at +2500 in the Super Bowl 2022 American football odds.

Benjamin St-Juste

When you’re six foot three, 205 pounds and still able to run 40 yards in 4.51 seconds, it goes without saying that you have the physical credentials to succeed in the NFL.

Benjamin St-Juste is the man that can, and he will bolster the roster at a Washington Football Team that will be looking to improve upon their playoff showing in 2020.

The 23-year-old may only have been a third-round pick, but he comes with a burgeoning reputation thanks to a successful time at the University of Minnesota. An All-Big Ten special mention in 2019, more than 50 NFL recruitment personnel attended the college’s pro day – largely to catch a glimpse of St-Juste going through his paces.

Both Brian Gutekunst and Jon Robinson made the trip but, in the end, it was Washington who snapped up the powerhouse from the Draft.

Chuba Hubbard

The third Canadian to be drafted in 2021 was Chuba Hubbard, who became the first Canadian running back to be selected from the Draft in 25 years.

It’s the Carolina Panthers who have taken a chance on the 22-year-old and with his credentials, you can see why. Hubbard finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2019 after a stellar campaign – he served up 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, an NCAA best. He was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

While running backs are not the hottest of properties in the Draft, Hubbard provably has the talent to cross into the end zone with regularity – the Panthers might just have got their hands on an unheralded gem here.

With these three Canadians taking the step up to the NFL, the future of the sport north of the border looks in safe hands.

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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s

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Andy Murray‘s grasscourt return was cut short in brutal fashion at Queen’s Club as Italian top seed Matteo Berrettini dished out a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the former world number one on Thursday.

The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.

Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.

Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.

Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.

He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.

Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.

“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.

“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”

Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.

(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)

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